NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has unveiled a new procurement framework for digital communications solutions for the health service.
Named Patient/Citizen Communications and Engagement Solutions, it replaces the Communications, Appointments, Reminders and Alert agreement, is set to run until the end of October 2023 with an option to extend until 2025 and has been valued at around £250 million.
The new framework includes 29 suppliers across nine lots for digital, email, SMS, interactive voice response, calls, hybrid mail, surveys and workforce with a lot for combined solutions.
NHS SBS said it has been designed to respond to a need within the NHS for better pre- and post-appointment communications.
Its senior category manager of digital and IT, Adam Nickerson, said: “With the coronavirus pandemic having added to the complexity of patient appointments and waiting lists, the revised agreement provides NHS organisations with access to market leading communication tools encompassing alerts, reminders and appointment technology that support healthcare professionals to deliver effective and efficient clinical care.
“Critically, with appointment solutions on offer via the framework encompassing traditional communication methods like phone, mail, email and SMS, alongside appointment technology via digital first communication channels such as patient self-service booking solutions, the framework ensures NHS organisations and care providers can be more inclusive of patient preferences by offering them a greater number of ways in which they can interact, make and respond to medical appointments.”
Scope for surveys
The organisation said healthcare trusts can use the framework to commission friends and family test surveys to understand whether patients are happy with a service or where improvements are needed.
In addition, products on the framework fit the terms of the £250 million Elective Recovery Technology Fund, announced in October to support NHS organisations in using digital technology that enable elective recovery.
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